This year one of my favorite art-related things I discovered was plein air painting (the fancy people say plein air pronounced plehhhhhn air but you can also just say plain air.) I had sketched outside a bit but never painted outside before. Not coincidentally, my mother Peg Sheridan has been becoming more invested in creating her identity as a Shenandoah Valley plein air painter. Typically plein air painters are oil painters... but we Sheridan's like to go against the grain, she paints in watercolor and I paint in gouache. Gouache is a water-based paint that is known for it's ability to be transparent or opaque.
Maybe I should explain what plein air painting is before I ramble on. Plein air painting is a tradition where painters paint on-site in nature. This means trucking your paint, brushes, water, water container, etc. with you to the location. The goal is to capture the fleeting moment of the light on the land. It's a very reflective and challenging process that inspires a sense of peace. It also inspires a sense of incredible frustration because it's so challenging to capture the beauty in front of you. The clouds are continuously floating away and disintegrating into different shapes.
I spent a weekend on the Cowpasture River in Highland County, VA with my mom and three of her plein air painter friends. It was inspiring being around women who knew so much about nature and art. We stayed in a hobbit-esque cabin on the river. Fun fact: Highland county is the least populated county in Virginia. Wine and paint is a combination that will never grow tired, there was plenty of both amenities on this trip. After that I painted on skyline drive in Shenandoah National Park and in downtown Staunton. One of my favorite things about this method of painting is the connection that I form with the landscape. When you spend so much time looking at the same area, it's so fresh and pure in your mind. The experience is lasting and sentimental so the painting becomes much more than a painting. It becomes a log of your emotional well-being of the day and of your perception of what you see. It makes it very hard to sell these paintings because they become so special to you and your memory.
My friend Noelia Nunez, has become one of my very close art friends. It's so important to have you trust and enjoy to talk about art and paint with. We have been plein air painting in a few different places around Virginia together. Especially after graduating and losing a lot of my trusted talented companions, it's so nice to have another artist to talk to.
Without further ado, here are a selected few of my attempt at capturing the immaculate beauty that is the Shenandoah Valley. Her blue mountains, her clear rocky rivers, her snake swindled paths, and her thistle-filled fields make for endless possibilities of ever-changing light and color.
So, I'm a published children's book illustrator now! What what! For the last two months I've been working on a series of 9 ink and colored pencil drawings for a children's book. The book is basically about a brother and sister and how their imaginations turn their house and pets into a fantastical, imaginary jungle. Until the adults enter the scene, and *poof* the beautiful imaginary island is gone. All too true right?
I had a lot of fun working on this, it was my first time collaborating with a writer so it was interesting to learn how that process worked. It was also different for me drawing the characters so many times and remaining consistent with their appearances. I had a lot of freedom with my concept and composition so I really got to explore my own idea of what an imaginary jungle would look like, which was super cool. I hope to continue illustration in the future! Only 25 copies of the book will be available for purchase soon so I'll keep you all updated on that.
This is the place where I post current works, upcoming shows, inspirations, and general thoughts about art.